Does Cowboy Bebop’s comic give fans an adaptation worth their time?

Released in 1998, Cowboy Bebop is largely considered to be one of the greatest anime’s of all time. Blending elements of Westerns, sci-fi, and crime fiction, Cowboy Bebop is a gritty neo-noir action story with a surprising amount of heart at its center. As bounty hunters Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, and Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV travel throughout the galaxy in search of riches and fortune, a deeper narrative slowly reveals itself throughout the course of the show. Performing an excellent balancing act of so many styles, themes, and genres, Cowboy Bebop is a masterclass in action, drama, and comedy.

2021’s live-action Cowboy Bebop, developed by Christopher Yost and released on Netflix, was far less successful in portraying the adventures and high jinks of Spike and company. Despite a great cast and an ardent attempt at keeping the spirit of the anime alive, Cowboy Bebop failed to impress fans. Adapting anime to live-action is never an easy move, and Cowboy Bebop struggled under the weight of its own legacy. While the show only lasted for one season, the spirit of its interpretation of the classic anime continued in a very unlikely manner.

Titan Comics’ Cowboy Bebop Adaptation Fires Off On All Cylinders

Cowboy Bebop comic Spike, Jet, Faye, and Ein lament being broke.

In 2022, Titan Comics released a four-issue comic miniseries based on the Netflix show. Cowboy Bebop (by Dan Watters and Lamar Mahturin) is a stand-alone story that doesn’t follow any narrative threads from either the live-action show or the original anime. The time of the story is set nebulously within the first half of the show as Ed isn’t present aboard the Bebop yet. Taking all of the essential components for a classic Cowboy Bebop story, the comic begins with an appropriately destructive BANG.

When the attempted capture of a wanted bounty goes sideways, Spike and the rest of the Bebop decide to keep tracking the fugitive. With a vast fortune waiting for them if they succeed, the crew of the Bebop take to the stars in hot pursuit. Their investigations reveal the dangerous origin surrounding the bounty hunter, the valuable technology he absconded with, and how two-hundred packs of firecracker noodles are the key to capturing him. As the crew of the Bebop cross paths with rival bounty hunters, crooked cops, and pregnant dogs, the truth they discover leads them all to a violent and bloody climax.

The Cowboy Bebop Comic Absolutely Deserves Fans Attention

Cowboy Bebop comic Spike and Faye discuss Jet and noodles.

Despite being a comic adaptation of a live-action show that itself was an adaptation of an anime, Cowboy Bebop is utterly fantastic. Beat for beat, it nails the spirit of the original anime in tone, writing, characterization, and style. For anyone that didn’t know any better, this story could have very easily been a lost two-episode arc that never aired. Had the live-action show been this good it very certainly would have not only been renewed for more seasons, but also amassed a very large fan base.

It’s a criminal shame that Cowboy Bebop’s best modern iteration is relegated to only four issues. The creative team behind the Cowboy Bebop comics understood the source material completely and didn’t simply replicate it, but expanded upon it. The reputation of the live-action show, for better or worse, should not get in any fans way of reading this comic. It has explosive action, gallows humor, and metaphor-laced philosophy. What else could a space cowboy ask for?

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